How to meet police this weekend

The man in charge of policing coastal Otago roads says anyone speeding, driving while impaired or texting behind the wheel this long weekend should expect to meet one of his officers.

Senior Sergeant Jared Kirk, of Dunedin, began his new role as road policing team leader for the Otago Coastal region in March.

Before joining the police, he gained a physical education degree and earned some life experience, working in forestry and ``getting his travelling out of the way''.

The road ahead . . . New Otago Coastal team leader road policing Senior Sergeant Jared Kirk is...
The road ahead . . . New Otago Coastal team leader road policing Senior Sergeant Jared Kirk is urging drivers to buckle up, watch their speed and keep their hands off their phones this Queen's Birthday Weekend.PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

The 41-year-old, on the young side for a senior Dunedin officer, has been with the police for about 14 years. He mostly worked on the front line from the Dunedin Central station with the police's public safety teams, but also had stints in Balclutha and Mosgiel.

 

His catchment stretches from Owaka and Clinton in the South, through Dunedin to Oamaru and up the Waitaki Valley to Omarama and beyond.

Responsible for about 21 sworn officers, Snr Sgt Kirk said his ``very knowledgeable and passionate'' team was focused on getting drivers to buckle up, stop texting, slow down and not drive while fatigued or impaired.

"If we can have an impact on those, then that's going to have a massive impact on our serious crashes and fatalities.''

While road policing was not his background, he was confident his staff could make Otago roads safer. But attending serious crashes never got easier, he said.

"You see a lot of carnage, despair and pain.''

He observed about 30% of people who died on the roads were not wearing a seatbelt, and was dismayed at the number of drivers he still saw using their phones while driving.

Seven or eight dedicated road policing vehicles would be roaming the highways and other roads throughout Queen's Birthday Weekend in his region, and holiday-makers should expect to encounter local officers patrolling near towns, he said.

Combined with the 4kmh tolerance in effect this weekend, the upshot was anyone speeding, texting or driving without a seatbelt should expect to have a chat with one of his staff.

Snr Sgt Kirk said he was also looking to increase the number of drink-driving checkpoints in the region.

More local officers were set to be trained in conducting a physical test designed to identify drivers impaired by drugs, a test which was ``not used enough,'' he added.

He advised those heading out of town this weekend to take particular care on State Highway 1 north between Dunedin and Oamaru, and south between Milton and Balclutha, which were both crash hot spots.

"I want to wake up on Tuesday to see there's been no serious crashes.''

george.block@odt.co.nz

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